Human Resources (HR) is a field of study that is becoming increasingly more relevant to modern society’s workplace structures. The success of a company often depends on the harmony of a company’s employees, which is fostered by HR professionals.
Individuals who aspire to become one of these professionals after their studies can look forward to exciting opportunities for career growth and impact.
Whether you are at the beginning or end of your HR studies, we’re sharing six valuable tips that are sure to support you in your career entry and progression.
1. Understand the diverse roles within HR
Human Resources may initially be believed to be a complaints centre by the unaware, but it is in fact a multifaceted field that encompasses various roles and functions.
Before delving into your HR studies, or going further in your education efforts, it is beneficial to understand the breadth of this profession.
Common fields HR professionals can work in with a completed degree include:
- Employee relations
- Benefits administration
- Training and development
- Labour relations
- Diversity and inclusion.
To ensure that you are going to make the most of your HR studies, research and analyse these different HR functions and roles. By understanding their responsibilities, benefits, and concerns, you will be able to choose which one works best with your interests and strengths.
Learning this early on can also give you the chance to tailor your education and career path to suit your preferences.
2. Pursue a relevant degree
If you are serious about pursuing a career in HR and have yet to begin your studies, it’s important that you obtain a relevant degree.
Many organisations will only accept applicants for HR positions who have already graduated with an undergraduate or graduate degree from a university.
Common degrees you should look into for a career in HR include:
- Human Resource Management
- Human Resource Development
- Industrial-Organisational Psychology
Universities such as UNSW offer these degrees both online and in person, providing flexible studying schedules to those who need them. Studying these degrees can provide you with a strong foundation in HR principles, strategies, and practices.
3. Develop strong communication skills
Effective communication is perhaps one of the most critical skills a HR professional will require in their line of work. This is because they often act as intermediaries between employees and management.
Negotiation tactics between these two parties require skills in conveying information clearly, listening actively, and resolving conflicts. HR professionals may also provide active roles in crafting policies, conducting interviews, and presenting to leadership teams, depending on their industry of work.
Public speaking or debate clubs are a great means of educating yourself on proper communication skills, or getting over your fear of public speaking, if relevant.
You can further hone these skills by also taking writing courses, or participating in workshops focused on effective communication. Those with notable communication skills in empathy, clarity, and confidence will find themselves ahead of the competition when it comes to entering the workforce.
4. Embrace technology and data analytics
Technology and data analysis have rapidly become core components of the HR profession as the industry landscape continues to evolve.
With it becoming more common for tools and software to be necessary for everyday work, aspiring HR professionals will need to look into educating themselves on these technologies.
The reach of technology has now encompassed HR responsibilities such as:
- Streamlining recruitment efforts
- Managing employee records
- Assessing organisational performance
- Making decisions about workforce planning, employee engagement, and retention.
In order to become an expert in these responsibilities, you will need to embrace technology and data analytics during your studies.
5. Gain practical experience through internships
While your fundamental skills in HR are sure to be learned within the classroom, practical experience is just as valued within the industry.
Internships allow you to apply your hard-earned knowledge to real-world scenarios, build a professional network, and gain insights into the daily challenges and responsibilities of HR professionals.
This practical experience should be gathered from organisations of varied sizes and industries in order to gain a well-rounded perspective on HR.
Do not just seek positions in a singular field, as gaining experience across all areas of HR can teach you valuable skills that may be hard to find elsewhere.
6. Stay informed and network
The HR field is continually evolving due to legislative influences, the evolution of practices, and shifting workplace dynamics.
To maintain a position at the forefront of HR knowledge, it is advised that students stay informed about industry trends and network with fellow HR professionals. Here’s how:
Join professional associations
Look into joining a professional organisation that is involved with the HR community, including local associations. These memberships provide access to valuable resources, networking events, and ongoing education.
Attend workshops and conferences
The latest trends and innovations in the HR field are typically discussed at HR conferences, seminars, and workshops. Not only will you gain invaluable insights by attending these events, but you can also find the opportunity to network with HR practitioners and thought leaders.
Engage with online communities
Information is not just shared in person, but also online in HR communities, forums, blogs, and social media accounts. Jump online to connect with professionals who share insights and advice, and make your own mark in the industry.
Gaining yourself a mentor in the HR field before entering it yourself can set you up for future success. Listen to their guidance and stories of experience to help you navigate your career.
Read HR literature
Take some time for yourself and your personal progression by reading HR books, academic journals, and industry publications to deepen your knowledge and understanding of HR concepts and practices.
HR is for those who aspire
Whether you are just starting out on your studying journey, or are closing that chapter in your life, HR is a field built for those who aspire.
Take the opportunity to make a positive impact on the workplace and the lives of employees by fully comprehending all aspects of HR: its diverse roles, what degree is most relevant to you, how to develop strong communication and technological skills, and even how to gain practical experience or knowledge.
By following the above six tips for aspiring professionals, you will be well-prepared to excel in your HR studies and embark on a successful career in human resources. Don’t just enter your dream field, take it by storm!